US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Taking immigration to Washington

Father Tom Joyce CMF | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
I was with the tens of thousands on the Washington Mall to push for immediate action on comprehensive immigration reform.

The skies were clear and the temperature mild. But as the crowd extend from 7th St., NW, to west of the Washington Monument it got so hot that I sought out what little shade under the trees. (For those who don't know Washington, the crowd was easily a mile long and about four blocks wide.)

The mood was a bit heated at the beginning as well, if you take serious the signs protesting increased deportations under Obama or those warning the Democrats they have no lock on the Hispanic vote. But the growing crowd seemed to mellow and it gave the president visit by video a hearty welcome. It was more a love fest than protest. Most of the crowd was Hispanic and very proud of that. The biggest reception was for Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Chicago who has been carrying the water for comprehensive reform for two decades (See NY Times.)

While the rally wanted action now, most sensed, though did not accept, that it won't come before the elections. Up on Capitol Hill pro- and anti- health care reform activists were also demonstrating--some, in contrast with mood on the mall, with racial and homophobic epithets, threats of death, and spittle. The Monday morning wisdom was that there were other issues that take priority--jobs, climate change, reform of financial institution--or that the Congress is so exhausted after 14 month of acrimonious partisan debate over health care that it won't want to take on anything big.

Those on the mall were more hopeful and knew it better to strike now while the Democrats still could push it through. Obama had brought health care back from the dead after the Massachusetts election. The crowd on mall thought he could do the same for comprehensive immigration reform.